Healthcare Update Satellite — 05-15-2013

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“Dear ER staff. Our friend is drunk. Fix him.” Unconscious Arizona college student who was “turning blue” left in hospital lobby with Post-It note stuck to his body after losing “drinking contest” at frat house. Nice friends.
If you decide to follow the link, turn down the volume on your computer. Gannett’s has an auto-start video ad that will blow your ears out.

Irish emergency department so crowded and busy that it has to pull an ambulance up to the front door to act as an extra resuscitation room for a patient. To be fair, there were five patients all needing resuscitation at the same time. I actually think that the doctors were pretty resourceful in coming up with the idea.

Nice article on how University of Michigan is decreasing medical malpractice expenses by disclosing errors and compensating patients before lawsuits are filed. Open claims have declined to 63 from 262. Lawsuits have declined to 0.75 per 100,000 patients per month from 2.13. Claim resolution time also has declined to 0.95 years from 1.36, costs to defend lawsuits have dropped to less than $1 million per year in 2009 from $2.2 million in 2001, and the amount needed for reserves has fallen to less than $16 million in 2009 from $72 million in 2001.
They seem to be on to something.

Nice article in the Atlantic about the decline of emergency care. Emergency department visits have increased by 44% while emergency departments have closed at a rate of 11%. In addition, 339 trauma centers have closed. A 10% increase in the number of African Americans treated correlated with a 41% increased risk of the emergency department closing.

If you’ve got nothing to do for a few hours, you can read the 4951+ comments on Reddit that were posted after an emergency physician offered to answer any questions that the readers might have.

The UnAffordable Care Act may leave cancer patients requiring “specialty drugs” with a hefty bill. Some states will require patients to pay up to 30% of the cost of their medications – which could total thousands of dollars each month.

Wisconsin hospital offers machine that dispenses prescription medications. Bad news is that patients need a credit or debit card to pay for the medications … no cash allowed. In addition, you have to visit the hospital’s own ED or acute care clinic – no other prescriptions work in the machine.

Interesting social experiment in New Zealand proves the obvious. Patients don’t use the the emergency department because they can’t afford to see a primary care physician – they use the emergency department because it is convenient. Patients were eligible to receive vouchers to obtain free appointments with primary care physicians for non-urgent complaints. Not one voucher has been handed out this year.
There was a wide belief that people used the emergency department because it was free, but the “clinical head” of the ED stated “that’s probably not as strong as a driver as you might think.”
Bullhokey. Institute a $20 co-pay for each emergency department visit and see how quickly ED patient volumes decrease.

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